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Short biography of G.Voronoi (p1)

                             Halyna Syta

 

Georgy Voronoi was born on April 16th (28th), 1868, in the small town of Zhuravka, Pyriatyn county Poltava gubernia.[We use here the well-known transliteration: Voronoi, in Ukrainian this name is pronounced: Heorhii Voronyi. Two birthday dates are used because there was accepted the Julian calendar ("old style") in Russia in the XIX century. Zhuravka is mentioned for the first time in chronicles in 1618. At the Cossack times, from 1654 till 1782, a cossack squadron (it was called: sotnia) belonging to the Pryluky regiment was settled here, so it had its military office, two wooden churches with Cossack schools. According to the nowadays administrative division the Zhuravka village belongs to Varva district of Chernihiv region}. According to the family legend, the Voronyis acquired their family name from a Cossack captain (in Ukrainian: "esaul”), a defender of the Voronivka Fortress which was situated to the north of Zhuravka near Ichnya.]

 

A picturesque hill over the Udai river was bought by Georgy'es grandfather Yakiv Voronyi. Yakiv began his activity as a chumak [Ukrainian ox--cart driver, salt merchant] and, earning a sufficient amount of money, he bought this patch of land and settled here with his family.

 

His son (and Georgy's father) Feodosii (1837-1910) ─ was a filologist, he graduated from Kyiv University and worked as a professor of Russian literature at Nizhyn Lycee (1864-1872) and then he was a director of Kyshyniv, Berdyansk, and Pryluky gymnasia. Feodosii was a person of progressive convictions, he had a talent and a calling to enlighten the youth. Even in his student years Feodosii was one of the initiators of Sunday free-schools for working youth and he taught history in the Kyiv-Podil school (1859-1861). His initiative in organizing a Sunday school was welcomed by Taras Shevchenko, who visited this school and donated it 50 copies of his "Kobzar". Later on, describing events of national importance at Kyiv University in the late 1850s and early 1860s, Olena Pchilka marked the praiseworthy deeds of the student Feodosii Voronyi in one of her essays. [Taras Shevchenko (1814-1861) is a great Ukrainian poet and artist, all Ukrainians esteem him to be their prophet, "Kobzar" is the book of poetry by T.Shevchenko.  Olena Pchilka (1849-1930) is a well-known writer, she was a mother of a famous Ukrainian poet Lesya Ukrainka.]

 

Feodosii Voronyi left us the work in which he expressed his attitude to teaching and education. In particular, he affirmed that "any success in political and social life is impossible until the people have been enlightened by moral sciences". He emphasized the need to spread historical knowledge among the people. He believed that it "enlightens one's mind, provides one with better understanding of his social status in life and frequently points out the best way to use one's abilities and achieve prosperity for oneself and wellbeing for others."

 

Feodosii Voronyi continued to implement his ideas of public education in Zhuravka. He built there, at his own expense, a school for the village children. The school became also the place where lectures, concerts, and theatrical performances for the local population were held.

 

The money collected was spent to enlarge the public library  which had been opened in Zhuravka.

 

Feodosii also found time for the gardening in Zhuravka. This, his passion, was

inherited by his elder son ─ Mykhailo. Mykhailo took an active part in creating a small enterprise for officinal herb processing in Zhuravka (1885). This was one of the first enterprises of such kind in  Russia. Thanks to the Voronyi family Zhuravka became a kind of cultural centre.

 

Georgy Voronoi studied first at Berdyansk and then at Pryluky gymnasium from which he graduated in 1885. In his school years he excelled among other pupils by his deep interest in science, espesially in mathematics. His  pupil's testimonial says:

 

"He attended lessons with good exactness. He did his assignments  with great care and very thoroughly. He did his written works quite well and in all seriousness, but due to his hurry, which is in his nature, they sometimes had shortcomings, especially with respect to their outward appearance and expression. He was  actively interested in the subjects of study, but sometimes he used to be absent-minded”.

 

And furthermore, in the column "Interest for studying", one can read:

"With excellent abilities, in spite of his young age, he is quite mentally developed and has a highly serious love of learning; he acquired very good knowledge in all subjects of high school, and in mathematics, having particular inclination and calling for it, he considerably surpassed the usual pupil's progress.”

 

Georgy's interest in mathematics was stimulated by his favourite teacher of mathematics ─ Ivan Volodymyrovych Bohoslovskii, who greatly influenced his world outlook and whole disposition. Later on in his student years G.Voronoi several times in his diary appealed mentally to his beloved teacher.

 

In 1884, a well-known mathematician, professor of  Kyiv University V.P.Yermakov started publishing the "Journal of elementary mathematics"

in which some themes for pupils' compositions were proposed. G.Voronoi presented his paper "Decomposition of polynomials into factors based on the properties of roots of a quadratic equation", and his work was published in the second volume of this edition (1885). The same year G.Voronoi entered St.-Petersburg University.

 

At the University G.Voronoi}finally determined his future, he decided to become a mathematician. In his student years (1885-1890) Georgy kept a diary and, fortunately, it has been partly preserved. It is kept now at the Manuscript Institute of the V.Vernadsky National Library of Ukraine. The diary served Georgy as a way of introspection and the author did not expect somebody to read it. We publish fragments from the diary  below with permission of Georgy Voronoi's direct relatives.

 

It is a sincere self-confession of a young man; he carefully analyzes his actions, speaks ironically about himself but can sensibly evaluate his own abilities, fights with his complacency, tries to be independent and resists the influences of those who prevent the realization of his plans. The author of the diary is a sensitive young man full of energy and enthusiasm, with a lot of different passions even in his school years, for example, music (he can play piano and flute), theatre (he

participates in performances), playing chess and other  games, hunting, etc. He is able to take one's sufferings to  heart and give an active help, sometimes he criticizes himself for the cruelty and hard-heartedness, and egoism, sometimes he can be too categorical and hot-tempered but afterwards he feels sorry and tries, as he writes, "to reach everything by heart but not just by his intellect”. Georgy describes his daily life, nothing out of the way, but turning over these pages the reader certainly feels the peculiarity and attractiveness of that life, which we have lost now, is it for ever?

 

First records in the diary tell us about Voronoi's arrival in  St.-Petersburg  (August, 1885). We see him at the rector's reception room. Voronoi handed him the recommendation letter from Hrihorii Galagan [H.Galagan (1819-1889) is a well-known  Ukrainian patron of education, he founded a private college ─ Pavlo Galagan College (named after his early deceased son)  and supported it by his own means]. Feodosii Voronyi was acquainted with H.Galagan and discussed with him problems of education and pedagogical staff. The rector received him amiably and asked:

 

─ Of course, you enter at your own expense?

I answered that I had no objections to enter at public expense.

─ You, of course, will study perfectly well, you will feel at home at Collegia [Collegia is a hostel for the University students], and then we shall make you a grant-aided student.

 

G.Voronoi got his student grant only on the fourth, the last year of studying. Lack of money constantly oppressed him. The money which his father sent was too little, it covered chiefly his lodging rent. Georgy had to earn for life himself, mainly by private lessons. The dream to get a separate room appeared to be unreal too. His neighbour bothered him with his petty demands and captious objections. He felt isolated, without friends, he even doubted the possibility of finding new friends. Every meeting with his fellow ─ countryman was an event, and he wrote about it in his diary. His thoughts again and again turned  to the reminiscences of his home and of his school years in Pryluky.

 

A particular  place in the diary is occupied with his recollections about his acquaintance and the development of his relations with Olia Krytska, his future wife. Every summer vacation Georgy spent in Zhuravka, his native land. The impressions of his visits to Bohdany, a small village where  Krytsky lived, predominated in his summer records. Georgy wrote about his feelings so sincerely, with such virtue and temperament (/events are almost ignored, only his feelings are recorded), that these pages are read like a real novel.  He determined once and

forever for himself that his destiny was in Bohdany,  but he concealed his feelings for the time being because he had no pecuniary base for his own family. His father insisted on this decision. Such a vagueness in relations brought him many sufferings, but he patiently waited his time and did not permit any other passion to find the way to his heart.

 

The years when Voronoi was studying at the University were the period of active political reaction all over Russia. The reactionary University statute in which all the academic life was placed under the police supervision was issued in 1884.

In 1885 a special uniform for students was introduced, the main aim of this action was to make it easier to watch them. The educational fee was raised five times in 1887, and this prevented the access to higher education for insufficiently provided youth. The same year every student had to sign a special document he committed

in which himself not to enter any secret societies and even "not to enter any allowed society without special permission, and to take no part in any money

gatherings".  All this influenced the general feeling and world outlook of the young man. G.Voronoi wrote in this connection:

 

  ...”Our characteristic feature is mistrust. We do not trust each other. When walking along the university corridor I speak with my comrade in whisper, because I do not trust other students ─  comrades around me”.

 

  "Our time is a hard one, we are but victims of a terrible regime; now you can't say outright even an innocent thing, or you will get at once in hands of the readers of the human heart”.

 

The false feelings and hypocrisy that reigned around him led him to seclude himself from social life. The interest in mathematics absorbed him more and more.

He tried to learn very persistently, often it was even instead of a night's sleep, but he was not an ascetic, on the contrary, he had a lot of different passions.

 

On the third year of his studying Voronoi wrote in his diary:

 

"Now I am caught with a real desire to work without being urged to start the book.

To-day I have been working much as well. Put down 6 lectures, so when putting the last one my hand even was not able to write. I get up at five in the morning and go in for mathematics. What a marvelous thing it is! Though it abounds in formulas, but all of them are so symmetric that can be easily memorized.” P2

Категорія: Статті(Англійська мова) | Додав: fond_voronogo (17.03.2011)
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